Author's Note: Well, hello again everybody! As my mother tells me every time I see her, I should really give people I chance to miss me before I show up again. But guess what, I haven't listened to her in a long time, and I'm crazy excited to get this started. If you've read Finding the Way Back, you know we left off at Annie's first birthday in June of 2020. Now, we're in August of 2023. Basically a lot of this chapter fills you in on what's happened to everyone in the three years that have passed, and sets a few things up for what's to come. If you haven't read FTWB, you can probably still follow what's going on, but if you have time, it might be fun (can I say that after all the angst that's written in that story?) to read. Anyway, this will not have the angst of the first story, it will be a much less heart wrenching continuation that the journey the Lopez-Pierce family began back then. So enjoy, review if you feel so inclined, I always appreciate it!
Almost eight years ago, laying helpless in a hospital bed, I'd resigned myself to the idea that the rest of my life was going to be terrible. The worst had just happened to me, I felt completely alone, and the only thing I had for comfort was alcohol. Three years later, the only woman I'd ever loved came unexpectedly back into my life, her own tragedy still fresh, a baby neither of us expected on the way. Somehow, reconnected by unfortunate circumstances and bound forever by the deepest love, Brittany, my best friend, turned lover, and after her return, turned wife, myself, and the beautiful little girl she'd given birth to, the daughter I'd never expected in the darkest hours of my life, became a family. In creating that family, the family I'd long given up on having for myself, the terrible life I believed was meant for me quickly became something entirely different. With the help of my amazing wife, and the child so new to the world, I'd learned that just because horrible things happen, doesn't mean everything had to be that way, and somehow, by loving deeply and being loved, even the hardest things don't have to be so hard. Once I'd figured that out was when everything changed, when the three of us, so full of love for each other, began our journey towards something amazing, this imperfect, yet beautiful life that I never, in my wildest dreams, could have imagined.
Tap-tap, tap-tap, tap-tap, tap-tap. The strange dream I'd been having was interrupted by a soft tapping sound. When I finally came to my senses, I realized that I was no longer in the middle of a meadow that oddly resembled the one from Bambi, I was on a mattress on the floor in the middle of our Gramercy apartment. I could feel the warm weight of my wife's hand that had somehow flung itself across my chest as we slept, I could hear the cadence of her breathing, a tell-tale sign that she'd been woken up by the tapping sound as well. The noise got closer, then stopped, then started up again, and before I could open my eyes, I heard a giggled oops and felt twenty-seven pounds of long limbs and blonde hair tumble down on top of me.
"Sorry, Mamí, I slipped." The little voice squeaked earnestly, and I opened my eyes to see tiny blue ones level with mine. I bit my lip, struggling to keep a grin from cracking across my face, knowing that the four year old who'd fallen on top of me was already sensitive about her clumsiness. Without looking, I could feel my wife fighting the laugher inside of her by the shaking of her palm against my skin, knowing that even though it embarrassed our daughter, we thought it was so adorably sweet.
"It's okay that you slipped, mija, but what's the rule about tap shoes in the morning?" I couldn't help but gather my daughter in my arms and hug her close to me, kissing her little forehead and rubbing our noses together.
"I didn't break the rule, promise!" She protested, and the woman beside me had given up pretending not to laugh, knowing how just one word from our Annalise could effect me so much, but still hadn't opened her eyes. "There is a seven on the kitchen clock, look!"
I pulled myself into a sitting position, still holding the small child in my lap. Squinting so I could see the clock in the distance, I shook my head when the red numbers revealed that it was 6:12, and probably had read 6:07 when my clever little girl decided to put her tap shoes on
"Remember, Annie, the seven has to be the first number. We don't want to wake up Mama when she needs to get her rest." I told her, using my fingers to comb her hair out of her face. Before the words had even left my lips, I heard a strangled snort come from the not-sleeping love of my life, knowing full well that I was the one who needed the sleep, and I grinned at Annie, an idea coming to mind. "But, I think that since today is a really special day, Mama should be woken up in a really special way. Are you ready?"
Annie nodded solemnly, as if being given a very important direction, and before my beautiful wife could react, the two of us began ticking her everywhere. Riotous laugher erupted throughout the apartment from all three of us (which I knew the neighbors would complain about, one of the many reasons we were laying on a mattress on the floor, not in an actual bed, we had completely outgrown the apartment that had held the three of us for just over four years), and at some point, my eyes caught Brittany's and we turned the tickling on our four year old bundle of energy.
"Mercy Mama! Mercy Mamí!" Annie cried out, and the two of us ceased our tickling and began to pepper her with kisses.
Once we'd finished our attack, Brittany pulled off Annie's tap shoes and hugged her close, smelling the lavender smell of the baby shampoo that we still used in her shoulder length blonde hair and savoring the feeling of a blissful Sunday morning in bed. As was typical, I couldn't help but feel a swell within my heart as I looked over at the two beautiful girls, the younger one nearly a clone of the woman who'd given birth to her, both of whom I loved with everything in me. With Annie snuggled against her Mama, the two of them having already giggled out their good mornings, Brittany's eyes caught mine again, and like she had since we were twelve years old, she knew every single thought that ran through my head. She knew that I was looking at them like they'd hung the moon, and I smiled, leaning over to finally kiss my wife good morning.
"Morning, babe." I told her before pulling my forehead away from hers.
"Early morning." She corrected, shaking her head with a chuckle.
"Every day." I squeezed Annie's foot, which had dug itself into my side, not actually minding being woken up by the same noises day in and day out.
"Hey, sunshine." Brittany murmured into blonde hair, but not breaking her eye contact with me. "Why don't you go put on the dress I laid out for you last night, and then bring your brush in here so Mamí can do your hair. We'll go have an early breakfast at Cosmo's Diner before everyone else gets here."
"Really, Mama?" Annie bounced up excitedly, running out of the room before either of us could say another world. I yawned and laid back down, knowing Britt's suggestion would buy us at least another ten minutes of rest.
"Still glad you bought her those tap shoes?" Brittany smirked, snuggling close to me and laying her head on my chest.
"You know Britt, even if we have to hear those things all day every day for the rest of our lives, I don't regret it. After she heard those tap dancers at your studio and said 'that's the most wonderfulest noise in the whole wide world,' how could I not have bought her a pair?"
"Yeah, I know. If you hadn't stopped to pick them up, I would have on the way home. We're lucky she never asks for much, you know that, right?"
"I do. If she did, we'd probably have to move to an even bigger place." I laughed.
"I don't know, I think this one is big enough for a long time." Brittany looked up at me seriously, and then smiled. "Are you excited to move in today?"
"Really excited. It's weird too, I moved in here when I was twenty-two, it's where we rekindled our love, it's where we brought Annie home from the hospital, it's where the first four years of the rest our lives happened. But still, our new house is so awesome!"
"It is!" She leaned up to kiss me excitedly, and then furrowed her brows. "Do you think Annie is going to do okay with the move?"
The thing about Annie, amazing little girl that she is, was that she had some (despite my resistance towards labeling anything) special needs. Born at less than thirty weeks, she'd spent nearly two months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit upon her unexpected arrival, and Brittany and I had spent a good deal of the first two years of her life anticipating what was to come. Just before her second birthday, we'd finally had her evaluated by an early intervention specialist, and from that, we learned of her struggle with transition (despite the turmoil that had occurred during the first year of Annie's life, we always kept things as consistent as possible for her), her occasional struggle with handing intense emotions (although Brittany joked that she'dsimply telepathically inherited that from me), and some delayed motor skill development (she'd been nearly one before she crawled, and when we'd gotten her evaluated, she'd hardly began walking). On the bright side, the evaluator had said, her language skills were above age level, and her auditory processing was right where it should be.
We didn't panic (proof that I was growing out of my aversion to intense emotions), especially after preparing ourselves for the worst and hoping for the best, instead we took her to physical and occupational therapy twice a week to help her catch up, and held her back from starting preschool for a year. The latter was something that Brittany insisted on even stronger than I had, having struggled herself throughout school, and I completely understood why she'd rather her keep her back a year than have her subjected to the same teasing that she'd suffered (and I'd physically harmed people for). We knew she'd be better off spending an extra year with us and her therapists, getting the one on one attention that would help her thrive. Despite her setbacks though, our Annalise was clever, funny, and gifted with seeing the world in her own special way. Sure, she'd probably never be a dancer like her Mama (I joked that she'd inherited her Uncle Finn's two left feet, we had to have a sense of humor about things) and she might need some extra help for a while, but our confidence that she'd succeed never wavered.
"I think she'll be okay, honestly. We've been there every day for two weeks watching the renovations finish and unpacking things, and she's beyond excited for her Wizard of Oz bedroom. I mean, we've done exactly what her OT told us to, and even if it takes her time to adjust, she will, she always does."
"You're right." She nuzzled my neck and I ran my hands through her hair. "I love you, San."
"And I love you, Britt. I guess we should probably get up before someone comes back in here ready to go get her waffles and hot chocolate. But I can't wait to christen our new bedroom tonight."
Once we'd come home from breakfast and packed the last of our things, I sat with Brittany and Annie on the floor reading our latest chapter of Little House in the Big Woods out loud. It was something we'd started once Annie was old enough to understand chapter books, reading a chapter before bed each night, or whenever the three of us were together and had nothing else that needed to be done. The Little House books had been Britt's idea, since her mom read them to her and her sister Lizzie when they were kids, and she was shocked that I'd never read them, but I was thoroughly enjoying the story so far, and Annie had become completely taken by it. Just when Laura and Mary finished making snow angels (and Annie wanted to count the days from August until snow) the doorbell rang and Annie jumped up and ran to the door.
"Who is it?" She cried out, bouncing up and down on her toes.
"Guess!" The deep voice behind the door called out, and a tiny laugh from the other side punctuated it.
"It's you, Uncle Finn, with Auntia Rachel and Brice! Mamí, open up the door for them!" I walked towards Annie, smiling that she still combined the English and Spanish words for aunt, and she stood back as I swung the door open for my best friends and their two and a half year old son.
"Good morning, my favorite little lady." Finn grinned as he set Brice down and Annie launched herself full force into his arms.
Immediately, Brice toddled over towards Brittany, having been completely in love with her since the day he was born. She picked him up, kissing his pudgy toddler belly, and carried him over to me so I could steal some kisses too. I adored that little boy, and had absolutely no hesitations admitting it, even though I constantly teased Finn for allowing Rachel to name him after her Funny Girl idol, Fanny Brice. He'd been born ten months after his parents were married, eighteen months after Annie, and though I did sometimes get nervous that he was nearly as big as my daughter and had a tendency toward throwing all of his weight into her with his hugs (his mom was Rachel Berry-Hudson and he had inherited her predilection for extreme emotional outbursts) he was my godson and the first child I'd ever loved besides my own.
"S'tana." He lisped, wrapping his chubby arms around my neck from Brittany's arms. "We moving today."
"Oh chiquito, you're not moving, just me, Aunt Brittany and Annie."
"Why?" He asked, his face turning into a frown. Rachel smiled at me, remembering how hard of a time I'd had figuring out the right things to say during Annie's why? phase.
"Well, I think Mommy and Daddy want you to stay with them."
"Hmmm." He put two of his fingers in his mouth, thinking. "They come too!"
"But what about your spaceship bed, Brice, and all of your toys?" Brittany cut in, knowing I'd probably start talking myself in circles. "I don't think we have room for all of that at our new house."
"Bricey!" Annie piped up from Finn's arms, another one who was good at diffusing situations. "You can come have a sleepover in my new room soon, right, Auntia Rachel?"
"Once you're all settled in and your moms say that it's okay, I think that's a great idea."
"Sounds good to me." I told Rachel, not even needing to confirm with Brittany. She was always more than willing to take on an extra kid for the weekend and I looked back at Brice. "Soon, okay?"
"Mmkay, soon!" He shrieked excitedly with an emphatic nod of his moppy dark head.
Kurt and Blaine, fresh off of their honeymoon in Naples, chose that exact moment to walk into through the still open door of the apartment, and I expected Kurt to immediately have something to say about another baby having me wrapped around their finger. Instead, he just told Annie how absolutely fabulous she looked, causing her to blush profusely and bury her head in Finn's chest, before snatching his nephew out of Brittany's arms.
"Guys." Blaine said, looking around the room. "You have like four boxes here and the old mattresses that need to go out to the curb. You're aware that really doesn't take six adults to move, right?"
"We know." I turned to him, rolling my eyes. "We're pretty much all moved in on Sullivan, we just kind of wanted you all here one last time since there are all kinds of memories in this apartment. Shut up, Kurt."
"I didn't even-" He started, a gleam in his eyes.
"I know, but you were going to."
Annie climbed down from Finn's arms and up into mine as they all started talking over each other about memories, both good and bad (I did not remember that I'd once threatened to throw Kurt off the fire escape, although, drunk or sober, it does sound believable that the old me would have said something like that), and Britt wrapped her arms around me from behind, her head resting on my shoulder. It was the beginning of yet another chapter in our lives, and there was something so bittersweet about the goodbye. Once Finn and Blaine carried our old mattresses down to the curb and we loaded our remaining boxes into the back of the Hudson's Range Rover, we told everyone we'd meet them at the new house in half an hour. One last time, we walked around the apartment that had been the first Lopez-Pierce home, Annie walking between us with Milky Way, her prized possession, the stuffed unicorn that had once been Brittany's, in her arms.
It was a strange sort of feeling, seeing the marks we'd made on the place over time. When Annie skipped (and stumbled over the door jam) into the kitchen, tap shoes clicking each time her feet touched the floor, Brittany squeezed my hand looking at the burn mark that had never quite faded on the stove after I'd left the pasta on for an hour the night I'd found out Ryan Davis was in jail. I turned away quickly, content to leave that one buried in the past. There were the scuffs Annie's highchair had left when we'd pushed it back against the wall, the patched up hole in the living room wall from where Brittany had put her foot through trying to show me that she could still kick as high she could as in high school, red crayon lines (washable my ass, I'd definitely spent an hour on the phone with Crayola after that) above where the couch used to be, pencil ticks in Annie's doorframe, marking her height every six months, dents our headboard had made in the window frame (I wonder how that could have happened) all signs for the next tenant of the people who'd come before. We'd lived in that apartment, all three of us nearly on top of each other, and we'd lived well. Grabbing Brittany's hand, we stood in the threshold, taking one final glance before Annie helped us to push the door closed on that past for one final time.
The three of us had taken a cab down to the Village, our car already parked in the new garage around the corner, and there was giddiness radiating off us as we stood on the sidewalk outside of the pale yellow townhouse that was ours. When it had gone up for sale, Brittany and I couldn't believe how cheap it was- until we went inside and saw the insane amount of work that needed to be done. We were pretty much enamored by the potential we saw in it, but it wasn't until we called our fathers (we'd make terrible feminists!) and asked them to come help us decide, that we knew it would be feasible to make it happen. So six months and a very significant chunk of our savings later (even after our parents managed to convince us to take the money they'd saved for our respective weddings, the money that we never used because all we'd wanted was a small ceremony with those closest to us, for the down payment) we were finally moving in to the beautiful house that we never even thought to dream of.
"Mija." I looked down at Annie who was bouncing excitedly on her toes, tap shoes slipping against the sidewalk. "Ready to help open up the door?"
"Course, Mamí." She scampered up the stairs and stood looking down at where the three of us had pressed our hands into the cement when it been freshly poured, mine and Brittany's on either side of Annie's. "C'mon, I'm all ready!"
Brittany and I looked each other and laughed before making our way over to our daughter. While I pulled the keys out of my purse, Annie pressed her hand down into the print she made and looked up at Brittany expectantly. My wife paused for a minute, counting to ten (we'd told Annie that covering her print on the stairs was what would magically make the keys to our house work) while I snapped a few pictures of the two of them with my phone.
"Eight, nine, ten." Brittany finished her counting and Annie beamed up at me. "Okay, Santana, try the keys now."
I turned the key and pushed the door open, feeling a flutter of excitement in my chest. Even though I'd walked through that door so many times while the work was being done and we were unpacking, it was different, it was now our home that we were entering! Annie ducked under my legs and ran inside while Brittany and I stood for just a moment in the threshold. Silently, I wrapped my arms around her neck and pulled her in for a deep kiss. Her hands tangled in my hair, pulling me even closer, but before I knew it, she backed away and I felt myself being lifted off the floor.
"Britt!" I cried out, laughing as her arm hooked behind my knees. "What are you doing?"
"I'm carrying you over the threshold, silly!" Her blue eyes sparkled with delight.
"Weren't we supposed to do this when we got married? And how did you decide that you got to carry me?"
"I was gigantic pregnant on our wedding day." She said simply. "And I thought of it first and picked you up before you had a shot."
I shrugged in her arms, figuring that logic was as good enough as any and grinned when still holding me, she leaned down to kiss me again once we were inside the entryway. I love you so much, I mumbled against Brittany's lips and she kept kissing me, leaving me a little dizzy when she finally unceremoniously dropped me to the floor and grabbed my hand, pulling me through the house to marvel in the fact that we finally lived there. Four bedrooms! An office! A playroom! A piano! A tiny square of grass that counts as a backyard in New York City! It was so much more than we ever could have asked for, and I was beside myself with delight.
While Brittany went upstairs to find Annie, I walked into the office that I'd so meticulously organized (although, I was fairly sure, knowing both Brittany and myself, that it wouldn't stay that way for very long). The need for an office was what had finally precipitated our hunt for a new place to live. Being cramped in our converted Gramercy one bedroom was one thing, being cramped with books, papers and crap was another. It seemed like since realizing my dream to use music simply to help people, there was just so much that had needed to get done. While I attempted to figure out how exactly my plan would work, I'd managed to complete an online social work certificate program through Hunter College (because even with so much life experience to connect with the people I wanted to work with, I felt like just a little education might help), and continued to write music for Columbia Records. It had been a whirlwind three years, combining those things with my own therapy sessions, weaning myself off of anti-anxiety medication, and coordinating Annie's schedule with Brittany, named by the New York freaking Times as the top choreographer in New York, but we both knew that we'd sooner give up everything else than send her to day care or hire a nanny.
As I looked into the office, which was filled with LLC applications, grant funding requests, and the other trappings of starting a non-profit organization (hence why I continued to write for Columbia, my dream may have been capable of changing lives, but it wasn't going to bring in a ton of money) I felt like so much was going to start in our new house. My organization, called, until I could actually come up with a real name, the make people sing about their feelings and shit project, had the primary goal of being used as an alternative method to help high risk teens- gay, bullied, homeless, abused, etc.- find a positive outlet for their pain. People like me, people who'd been through the ringer and came out alive, would share their stories, musically or otherwise, and help connect the kids with counseling services or whatever other resources they needed, while providing them a safe space to talk. It was ambitious, and I know that the old me would have completely made fun of the idea, as I'm sure a lot of the teenagers still would, but if we could get some high schools (besides Finn's, since we'd already started a monthly pilot program there, which seemed to be working fairly well) to give us a shot, I was pretty sure we could actually make a difference.
"No working today." Britt came up behind me and wrapped her arms around my waist. It had been so long since a sudden appearance like that would have terrified me, and I smiled inwardly.
"Nope, absolutely not. Is everyone here?"
"Yeah, Annie is giving them the tour. Quinn just called from Ohio, she says she's sorry she couldn't be here today."
"Well, taking baby Eden to see Grandma Judy definitely takes precedence over our silly moving ceremony." I smiled, thinking of Quinn and her husband Archie's six month old daughter, who they'd adopted from Vietnam. In perhaps the greatest irony of her life, our friend had lost her virginity and gotten pregnant at sixteen, but then had an extreme amount of difficulty conceiving as an adult. Remembering how grateful she was (after she stopped going crazy) that Shelby Corcoran had given her daughter a better life, Quinn didn't want to go through the rigamarole of spending months or years going through fertility treatments when there were so many kids out there who needed homes. After an obscene amount of paperwork and a lot of international travel, Eden Hope Chapman had finally come home a month ago, and I had never seen her mother happier.
"It's not silly, it's cute." She tilted my head back and kissed me. "I like that I've turned you into a sucker for traditions. But c'mon, let's go in the living room, Annie is itching to start handing out keys."
I smiled at that, a true testament to how much I'd grown in the years since I'd first come to New York. Yes, Finn and Rachel had keys to our old apartment, but the only reason I'd given them a set was because I lived alone and Rachel insisted that someone be able to check on me (which was necessary on more than one occasion, including the night they'd forced Brittany back into my life). This time, we were giving them keys because I truly trusted them, truly knew they were the ones that I wouldn't blink an eye at if they randomly showed up in our kitchen at breakfast time (which they wouldn't, but still). They were our family, and I was no longer ashamed to admit that. Brittany walked back into the living room, checking over her shoulder that I was following, and Annie was standing there, in the middle of her aunt, uncles and Brice talking about how close her 'biggest, amazingest' house was to the ice cream store on Houston Street.
"Ven aqui, Annalise." I told her. "Mama has the presents you want to give out."
"Yay!" She rushed excitedly to Brittany's side and held out her hands. In each, Brittany placed a key with a painstakingly tied yellow ribbon (we were working on shoe tying and Annie sat there for close to an hour, tying and re-tying the bows she insisted the keys have because they were gifts) and Annie solemnly placed one in Finn's hand and one in Kurt's. "These are for you, in case of a 'mergency. Even though you don't have any hand magic."
"Hand magic?" Kurt looked at Annie, biting back a laugh and quirking an eyebrow in mine and Brittany's direction.
"Yes, Uncle Kurtsy! Hand magic! Maybe you gotsta bring Auntia Rachel with you, because her hands are the same size as Mamí's."
"Are not." I whispered to Britt with a frown, and she kissed my fingers, knowing I was sensitive to my size being compared to my best friend's.
"It's not about the size, it's about what you do with them." Brittany whispered back, a smirk forming at the corners of her mouth.
"Annie." Finn, who'd heard our side conversation knelt down to Annie's height and couldn't control his chuckle. "Can you explain this magic to us?"
"You use your hands to get inside." She tried to explain, pouting a little at the fact that everyone had started to laugh, not understanding that it really wasn't at her.
"Do either of you care to enlighten us about what that means?" Rachel asked, looking between Brittany and me.
"The handprints at the door!" Brittany sputtered out and I buried my head against her chest to keep Annie from seeing how hard I was laughing at our friends' confusion and beyond inappropriate thought processes. "One of us needs to put our hand in them for the door to open, so no monsters can get inside. She's four, guys, can we try to keep it PG rated around here?"
"This, from Brittany." Kurt snickered and I gave him a dirty look.
"Sorry for laughing, Annie." Finn said, easily swinging her into his arms. "We just didn't understand your special monster protection, we don't have that at our house."
"But what if the monsters eat Brice?" She asked, wide eyed.
"No monsters!" Brice screamed, gripping Rachel's legs.
"Don't worry, mija, Aunt Rachel's singing keeps them away." I promised, earning a glare from Rachel and a pinch on my arm from Brittany.
"And your claws don't?" Rachel bit back and I laughed, giving that one to her. We may never have stopped going at each other, but over the years, our words had lost their old venom and simply turned into a way of expressing our love.
Five hours and four pizzas (I swear, sometimes I really believed that Britt and Annie were having a secret who can eat the most pizza? contest, they way they both managed to inhale their slices) later, we finally started kicking everyone out of the house. Brittany and I both knew that it was going to take significantly longer than usual to get our daughter to sleep in a new environment, and coupled with the ice cream cake Kurt and Blaine had brought, we could be in for a late night if we didn't start early. Bedtime was serious business in the Lopez-Pierce house, since we'd learned when Annie was still very young that lack of sleep turned our normally pleasant and agreeable child into Snix the second, so we didn't even try to mess with that
After marking her height on the new door frame with the words 'Move in Day, 8/9/2023' beside it, and tucking her tap shoes in their place under the bed, we bathed Annie in her Emerald City themed bathroom (I blame Rachel for her goddaughter's full fledged Wizard of Oz obsession), she put her own pajamas on and Brittany lifted her up into her new full sized bed. Once both her Dr. Seuss quilt and the blue and white gingham comforter were pulled up around her and Milky Way, Britt and I climbed on either side, snuggling close as Britt read the next chapter of our book. There was something so incredible about the three of us lying there (in a bed where we all actually fit, a far cry from the toddler bed where one of us had to kneel at the side), under the glittering rainbow that had been painted on the wall, and Brittany and I shared a private smile as our daughter's eyes slipped closed. We waited a few minutes before trying to get up, but of course, the minute we moved, tiny blue eyes popped back open.
"Mamí." She mumbled sleepily. "You forgot t'sing me a song."
"What song do you want tonight, corazóncita?" I asked, even though I knew she asked for the same song every night.
"Mi cancion-" A yawn stifled her words as she whispered in sleepy Spanish and let her eyes close again. "Por favor."
"Okay." I kissed her forehead and began to sing in almost a whisper, Brittany mouthing the words from her other side.
Hey child, up and go,
Big world is out there waiting for us
To live in every day
Outside you will find
There is love all around you
Takes you, makes you wanna say
That it's a beautiful life
And it's a beautiful world
And it's a beautiful time
To be here, to be here, to be here
"Night Milky Way. Night Mama and Mamí." The words were barely audible as she spoke them.
"Buenos noches. Dulces sueños. Te amo con mi todo corazon." I whispered, stroking Annie's wispy hair out of her face and kissing her one last time as her breathing fell into a soft, constant rhythm.
"Good night, sweet girl. I love you." Britt added with her own kiss before we got up and slipped out of the room.
Together, we walked down the hall, still feeling the giddiness that had pervaded our thoughts throughout the whole day. As we walked past the stairs, I clicked the baby gate closed (I still had some neurosis about some things, and Annie falling down a flight of stairs that she didn't remember were there in the middle of the night was one of those things) and looked into the empty room across from them. My wife and I exchanged a glance, knowing the use of the only empty room in the house was a conversation we both wanted to have, and soon. But it was a discussion for another night, not the night we were celebrating the current life change, and I pulled Brittany into our bedroom. Looking at me, and then at the king sized bed (a big step up from the double bed we'd slept in for the past four years) that we truly convinced each other we needed, despite the fact that we basically slept on top of each other every night anyway, Brittany gave me the biggest grin, her eyebrows raised in a silent question.
"You're sure she's sleeping, right?" I asked.
"Yes, one-hundred percent." She swore
"Okay, because if she's not, we're going to regret this for a long time."
"I know, but she's definitely asleep, come on." Britt nipped my bare shoulder and pressed herself against me, obviously willing to use any and all methods necessary to convince me, and knowing she'd win every single time. "We've been waiting to do this since that day in the store a month ago. If you're not going to do it with me, I'll just do it myself."
"Okay, okay. Let's do it." I grinned and my wife kissed me excitedly.
Looking like a kid on Christmas, Brittany climbed up so she was standing on the bed and held out her hand to pull me up. Since the minute we picked out that bed, the two of us, so incredibly mature for twenty-eight and twenty-nine, wanted nothing more than to jump up and down on it. Of course, given the fact that Brittany had broken her collar bone doing exactly that in junior high, we had a major 'No More Monkeys Jumping On the Bed' rule in our house, and couldn't rightly do it while Annie was awake. Once she was down for the night though, there was clearly no stopping our urges, and we stood across from each other, unsteadily waiting for the other to start first. Finally, I grabbed both of her hands in mine, and we started bouncing up and down in tandem, more butterflies forming in my stomach each time I went airborne and each time Brittany stole a kiss from me.
"We have a house, Santana! An actual grown up house! And a huge bed!" Britt nearly shrieked, and giggles (seriously, I'd never giggled more in my life than on our moving day) bubbled out of my mouth.
"I know Britt!" I grabbed her face with both of my hands and kept jumping up and down. "It's like none of it was real until today, when we could actually sleep here!"
"I'm so happy right now, I can't even explain it!" She cried, kicking my legs out from under me so I fell into a sitting position on the bed. Before I could open my mouth to complain about her actions, she landed on top of me, straddling my lap and connecting our lips until she earned a loud gasp.
"We so earned this." I breathed against her mouth, and she knew what I meant. The house, the happiness, the life, all of it.
"We did." She smiled into another kiss, temporarily lifting herself up so she could slide both of our shorts off. "And we'll keep working hard every day to maintain that. But tonight, we have some very important business to take care of."
"The most important." I mumbled, moving my lips down her neck and forcing her to lift her arms so I could pull off her tank top.
"Even though I could live in a cardboard box with you and still be this happy, I love that this is real." She said seriously, as my shirt, the last article of clothing between us, was nearly torn off of me.
"Me too babe." I sighed, my words becoming less coherent as Brittany's fingers touching my bare skin, and the feeling of her skin under my fingers began to distract me. "Me. Freaking. Too."
End Note: So there you go, new beginnings, new house, and a serious conversation that needs to happen soon. The song Santana sings to Annie at bedtime (and where the title of the story comes from) is Fisher's Beautiful Life.
Also, while I have the floor, I'm going to shamelessly plug ishlheard2day's one-shot that totally put me in a great mood today! Check out My Kind of Love, I promise you won't regret it! Brittana forever, right everyone?